Workers at the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey are worried for their future. Picture: Adam Head
Workers at the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey are worried for their future. Picture: Adam Head

Time's up: Process of redundancy for 150 workers to begin

THE process of making redundant 150 workers at New Acland Coal Mine will begin on Monday morning, with management talking to crews from as early as 6am. 

Miner owner New Hope Group told the State Government in June that if it did not have approvals in place for its Stage 3 expansion by September 1 it would have to halve production and let go of half its workforce. 

At 5pm on Sunday, New Acland Coal Mine general manager Dave O'Dwyer said he was yet to hear anything from the State Government. 

Due to the provisions of the mine's Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, the first workers will be out of a job by the end of October. 

The company has human resources workers and counselors at the ready. 

On Friday, Mr O'Dwyer explained that the mine was running out of coal.

"We cannot continue to hold onto a workforce when there's no work for them," he said. 

"Without the Stage 3 expansion we'll be ramping down here in October and then that will phase down over the next 12 months and then that will be the end of the Acland operation."

New Acland first sought approvals for its Stage 3 expansion more than 12 years ago.

It is a process that has been tied up in a series of legal battles with the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, which believes the mine expansion poses an "unacceptable threat" to underground water resources.

The company asked for a judicial review after the Land Court recommended the $1 billion Stage 3 not be approved in 2017.

Justice Helen Bowskill overturned that recommendation in 2018, and an appeal is ongoing.

The mine is seeking approvals for Stage 3's mining lease, associated water licence, and continued use of the Jondaryan rail facility on a transitional basis.

Earlier in the week State Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said he appreciated the concerns of local communities about jobs and their local economies, "particularly with the ongoing impact of the drought".

"The Government is currently working quickly and diligently on approvals for the project," he said.

We need it to stay open: Oakey business in support of New Acland Mine expansion
We need it to stay open: Oakey business in support of New Acland Mine expansion